Over the decades, you can imagine I have seen a lot of so-called test certificates, sold to customers by salesmen with the gift to sell an illusion, on the understanding that what they’re getting is purportedly safe.
Don’t get me wrong there are many good companies out there trying their best to educate people on what they actually need, not the illusion painted by the Internet and so many testing houses, but finding them is very hard, especially when you don’t actually know what you’re asking for.
Let me explain: –
I was asked to carry out an electrical test last year, so I started asking my normal questions.
- Have you got the previous paperwork?
- Do you have a schematic drawing?
- Do you have a layout drawing?
- Have you got any certificates for remedial works or additions have been added to your system?
Including drilling down with the customer their requirements, I was told the following I want a full 100% test! great somebody that knows what they want/need, I thought.
But you can’t turn anything off (so that rules out all dead testing).
You cannot inject any voltages into our systems (so that rules out any live testing).
So, my answer was that you just want a visual for us to check for cracked sockets, broken light switches, damaged light fittings, broken fuse boards etc.
No, we want you to do a 100% test, but you just told me that we can’t turn it off or inject any voltages into your system which means we cannot test it properly.
I tried to explain, but it was basically met with this is what we had done for the past 15 years we don’t understand why you’re being difficult!
I asked to see the previous paperwork which they produced in front of me basically it was a visual inspection with 3 to 4 circuits looked at visually on every three-phase board, written on non-standard paperwork which clearly states that this is a visual inspection only, they have been happily going along getting these done by a major player in the industry for 15 years, and apparently, this has been accepted by their insurance company?
So, yet another company sold an illusion of safety based on the cheapest price!
After all, people only seem to be interested in the price not what they are getting for this, I will break it down below: –
A worthless piece of paper which says satisfactory or non-satisfactory with a huge list of remedial works to cover the actual cost of doing the job and those that are doing this are totally protected because the customer has agreed to it, without the slightest understanding, apart from its cheap or actual understanding that what you’re getting is a joke.
I have always adhered to the fact that if you have a full 100% inspection and test of your electrical system together with drawings and circuit charts then you can do a 20% test each year over five years ending up with a 100% test at year five, and they continue in this vein if all changes and amendments and additions are included with the paperwork.
If during the inspection and test the circuits you are testing show that they have faults or dangers present in them, then you need to increase the size of your inspection and test above 20% this is very often not done, as the contractor will not get paid for it, because the customer doesn’t want to.
What we normally find when we go to the site; No paperwork, no drawings, no schematics limitations on 90% of the paperwork if there is, any at all, and the illusion of a 10% test/visual, being safe to the customer.
Domestic, Commercial, and Industrial
So, let me explain what they do on a small domestic fuse board that has 10 circuits in it, often the ones I see have tested the cooker circuit or the immersion circuit, as the 10% then foisted a certificate onto the customer with the customer believing this is safe.
There is normally a bunch of remedial works put on the list to be done despite the fact that only 1 circuit has been “tested”; which is “not” “inspected and tested”, with LIM on all the rest, that actually means 9 circuits have not been inspected and tested, so 90% of your installation has never been looked at properly and yet this is signed off as satisfactory or non-satisfactory with a bunch of remedial works because you agreed to a 10% test or a visual, because of cost, and this is what they have done.
The onus of responsibility is on the customer, to ensure that what you are asking for is correct not send the filing clerk or the tea person out to get the cheapest price possible just to fill a tick box exercise in compliance.
This does not leave you in a safe situation, neither does it leave your employees or your customers in a safe situation because you are cutting corners at the expense of safety.
Often when you see the next test cert, they test the same circuits but do not inspect it, this is lunacy, and it has carried on for over 40 years mainly because of the value engineering criteria being foisted into the marketplace in this constant drive to do things cheaper and cheaper and cheaper, faster, faster and faster!